Young (Henry), Mabel Florence (1889–1974), artist, was born 18 August 1889, youngest of seven children of William Henry Young , owner of a coaching business, of 3 Union St., Ryde, Isle of Wight, and Emma Young. She was educated in Ryde, but, with her father's business adversely affected by the development of the motor car, was sent out to be a seamstress. In 1914 she came to Dublin to work as an assistant to her sister, who was housekeeping manager of the Shelbourne hotel. As she walked back to the hotel from O'Connell bridge on Easter Monday 1916, having spent the day in the Phoenix Park, she evaded gunfire. On 1 July 1922, during the civil war, she barely escaped when a bullet whizzed through her living-room window in the Shelbourne past her canary cage and lodged in the wall.
Meeting the artist Paul Henry (qv) while on holiday in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow, in 1924, she became his student and lover, before learning that he was married to artist Grace Henry (qv). Young went to live at Carrigoona Cottage – which took its name, meaning ‘Fairy's rock’, from the neighbouring mountain – at Kilmacanogue, where she kept a guesthouse. Mary Manning (qv), a frequent visitor, later wrote a play entitled ‘Storm over Wicklow’ (1933), partly inspired by her experiences at the cottage. Young first exhibited at the RHA in 1928 with the painting ‘Sugar Loaf mountain’, and continued to show works there till 1961. This picture was also included in an exhibition of Irish paintings at the Helen Hackett Gallery, New York (1928). In 1929 Henry moved in with her at Carrigoona Cottage, where he built a studio. After contributing to the Aonach Tailteann exhibition of Irish art (1932), Young held her first solo exhibition at the Country Shop, St Stephen's Green, Dublin (1933). In the summer of 1938 she visited the Twelve Pins area of Connemara with Henry to collect material for his autumn exhibition. She showed ‘Summer flowers in a vase’ at a solo exhibition in Dublin in 1939. A selection of her paintings was shown at the Shelbourne hotel in 1940, depicting Wicklow scenes, such as Lough Dan and the Sally Gap, and areas in the south of France. Her 1942 exhibition at the Shelbourne included the painting ‘The white rocks, Killarney’. She exhibited ‘The beech wood in November’ at the RHA in 1944, and later that year contributed to ‘Irish Artists’, a mixed show at the Goodwin Galleries, Limerick. She assisted Henry, who had lost his sight, in the composition of his autobiography, transcribing the manuscript from his dictation (c.1946–7); the book, An Irish portrait (1951), is dedicated to her. In 1950 she moved with Henry to 1 Sidmonton Sq., Bray, Co. Wicklow. After Grace Henry's death (1953), Young and Paul Henry married in 1954. Young showed paintings, including ‘Lough Mask’ and ‘Dingle Bay, Co. Kerry’, at the An Tóstal exhibition at the International Hotel, Bray (1954). Continuing to work after Henry's death (1958), she exhibited ‘Michaelmas daisies’ and other paintings at a one-person show at the Ritchie Hendriks Gallery, Dublin, in 1962.
A relatively unknown artist, Mabel Young painted in a loose impressionistic style, specialising in oils and watercolours of Wicklow woods and glens, but lacked depth in her portrayal of subjects. She died 8 February 1974 in a private nursing home in Bray, and was buried in St Patrick's churchyard, Enniskerry, Co. Wicklow. Her notebooks are in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Most of her watercolours are in private collections; the Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane holds a watercolour, ‘Autumn beech trees’, and an oil-on-board flowerpiece.